Kill/Capture(2:54) Beyond bin Laden, inside the military's extraordinary, secret campaign to take out thousands of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters

Report: Current Pace of Night Raids in Afghanistan “Not Sustainable”

by

U.S.-led night raids in Afghanistan may be becoming more precise, but that doesn’t seem to be making them any less controversial, according to a new report (PDF) released today by the Open Society Foundations.

The report says that better intelligence has led to a reduction in raids that mistakenly targeted civilians, but it also asserts that a surge in the number and scope of targets — one senior military adviser told researchers that as many as 40 raids can take place across Afghanistan on any given night — has “put many more civilians at risk than past intelligence flaws ever did.”

In recent years, botched raids and harrowing accounts from Afghan citizens have sparked protests and raised serious questions about whether the raids are alienating the local population in ways that fuel the insurgency.

The report identifies “significant improvements” resulting from revised guidelines issued by ISAF in order to address Afghan grievances, including:

  • · A reduced risk of civilian casualties
  • · Greater accuracy in selecting targets
  • · A reduction in property damage
  • · The increased use of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)
  • · More respectful treatment of women

But the report also says these reforms “have done little to alter Afghan opposition to night raids,” and that given extreme opposition from both the Afghan government and public, “the current pace of night raids is not sustainable.”

U.S. officials maintain that the recent spike has been critical to disrupting insurgents’ networks and operative capacity. Former Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh says he encouraged their increased use and told FRONTLINE, “These special operations are the most useful way of hurting the enemy.”  U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez told FRONTLINE that night raids are assessed very carefully to “ensure that the cost-benefit is worth the pain and agony of the Afghan people.” He added, “The payoff has been worth it in many cases.”

Because the night raids are conducted outside the NATO chain of command, the detention process is less open to public scrutiny.  The report cautions that “the lack of transparency or accountability mechanisms have reinforced Afghan perceptions that international military use night raids to kill, harass, and intimidate civilians with impunity.”

blog comments powered by Disqus

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS
Frontline Journalism Fund

Supporting Investigative Reporting

Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.
PBSCPBMacArthur FoundationPark FoundationFord Foundationwyncote

FRONTLINE   Watch FRONTLINE   About FRONTLINE   Contact FRONTLINE
Privacy Policy   Journalistic Guidelines   PBS Privacy Policy   PBS Terms of Use   Corporate Sponsorship
FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation.
Web Site Copyright ©1995-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.